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Jack London (1876-1916) was easily the most successful and best-known writer
in America in the first decade of the 20th century. He is best known for his books, The
Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf, and a few short stories, such as “To
Build a Fire” and “The White Silence.” He was a productive writer whose fiction traveled
through three lands and their cultures such as the Yukon, California, and the South
Pacific. His most famous writings included war, boxing stories, and the life of the
Molokai lepers. ?He was among the most influential people of his day, who understood
how to use the media to market his self-created image of a once poor boy to now famous
writer?(biography of Jack London). He left over fifty books of novels, stories, journalism,
London was born in San Francisco to an unmarried mother, Flora Wellman. His
father may have been William Chaney, a journalist, and lawyer. Because Flora was ill,
for eight months Jack was raised by an ex-slave, Virginia Prentiss. Late in 1876, Flora
married John London, a partially disabled Civil War veteran, who adopted Jack. The
family moved around the Bay area for a while before settling in Oakland, where Jack
completed grade school.
When he was young, London worked at different hard jobs. He searched for
oysters on San Francisco Bay, served on a fish patrol, sailed the Pacific on a sealing ship,
hoboed around the country, and returned to attend high school at age 19. During that
time, he became familiar with socialism. He ran unsuccessfully several times for Mayor
London’s great love became agriculture, and he often said he wrote to support his
Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen. He brought techniques observed in Japan, like terracing and
manure spreading and used them on his farm.
Troubled by physical problems, during his thirties, London developed kidney
disease. He died on November 22, 1916. Following his death, for a number of reasons a
myth developed in which he was made up to be an alcoholic womanizer who committed
suicide. But it was proved wrong. But its rumor has resulted in neglect of his books and
his popularity. His writings became translated in several dozen languages, and he
remains more widely read by other countries around the world, than in America
Because he read so much, he chose to become a writer as an escape from the
terrible life as a factory worker. He studied many famous writings and began to submit
stories, jokes, and poems but most came without success. His experiences when he was a
boy, later formed books for boys’ adventure stories like The Cruise of the Dazzler (1902)
and Tales of the Fish Patrol (1905). A committed socialist, he insisted against editorial
pressures to write political essays and insert social criticism in his fiction.
Spending the winter of 1897 in the Yukon, he began publishing in the Overland
Monthly in 1899. Many were books were written during this period of his life he told
stories in The Son of the Wolf (1900), Children of the Frost (1902), Smoke Bellew
(1912). Although The Call of the Wild (1903) brought him lots of fame , many of his
short stories also became famous, like The People of the Abyss (1903), and the same for
his discussion of alcoholism in John Barleycorn (1913). London’s concern for the
outcasts of society were notably written in The People of the Abyss (1903), a harrowing
portrayal of English slum life and The Road (1907). His struggle to become a writer is
recorded in his autobiographical novel, Martin Eden (1909). London’s long voyage
(1907-09) across the Pacific in a small boat also created more books about the cultures he
saw. He helped break the fear that people had about leprosy.
After their marriage he followed with a book he co-wrote with Anna Strunsky,
The Kempton-Wace Letters, which said that mates should be selected for good breeding,
not love. (Bess agreed.) London’s fiction and political writings express a strong
commitment to his belief individualism and socialism.
?Biography of Jack London?
The Jack London collection (DL SUNSITE)
?Jack London Search Results?
Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.
CD-ROM. 1996 ed.
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